***image1***Nineteen students from Kaiserslautern American High School attended the largest annual Model United Nations Youth Assembly in The Hague, Netherlands, Jan. 23 to 28.
The KAHS delegation, under the tutelage of their coach and social studies teacher Martin Kollar, served on the committees for Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, and the U.N. Development Fund for Women, or UNIFEM. Additionally, two students served as press on the MUN newspaper.
“This kind of experience is the best thing a school has to offer for interested students,” said Mr. Kollar. “It exposes them to lots of problems that others face in the world. If a kid has money in his pocket, even just a dollar, he’s part of the wealthiest 8 percent in the world.”
This was the 21st year that Mr. Kollar has accompanied his team of students to the event. Preparing for more than six months before the event, they study issues to be discussed among more than 3,500 English-speaking secondary students from around the world. They also study various regions of the world, and how the issues affect those regions.
“I realized that so many people have real world-level problems, not just the drama and gossip of high school problems,” said sophomore Eryn Mertins, one of 10 first-time delegates on the team. “It just made me see how much more there is out there than my own little world. It was fun, but it was like going to work, too.”
“It’s as close to an adult environment and experience as many of them are going to get during high school,” said Mr. Kollar. “It actually helps some of them determine the direction they want to take when then get to college and beyond.”
Being taken seriously, about serious issues, was one of appeals of the first-time experience to junior Adrianne Carson.
“It was great being able to wake up every morning and put on a business suit,” Adrianne said. “I had a lot of self-doubt going into it. I was very worried about not being prepared, but by the end, I didn’t want to leave. Once you get in there, and get into it, there’s nothing better you can do in school! I was surprised at how unprepared some people were. I’m really glad Mr. Kollar had us prepare so thoroughly.”
Adrianne, on the UNAIDS committee, also said she learned the importance of standing 100 percent behind her position. Otherwise, she said, “no one is going to listen to you.”
Freshman Don Baumgartner, another first-time delegate on the UNIFEM committee, said he felt honored to be considered an ambassador for a week. He also admitted that “some of the debates were really tedious, some people just didn’t know how to get their point across, and the lunches were bad.”
Sophomore Erin Mertins
Adrianne Carson, junior,
Anna Dallas, sophomore, second time
Don Baumgartner, freshman
MK: When the kids put on the adult professional clothes, they become adults. They take them selves more seriously, and others take them more seriously.
EM: It was the experience of a lifetime. It brought me closer to whole world. I’ve really had to overcome my fear of public speaking. UNAIDS team. I want to do it again next year. This year, I just sat there and agreed with what others had to say instead of speaking up with my own ideas.
AC: UNAIDS. It was great being able to wake up every morning and put on a business suit and be taken seriously, as an adult. To talk about serious issues with other people who also took those issues seriously. I had a lot of self-doubt going into it. I was very worried about not being prepared, but by the end, I didn’t want to leave. Once you get in there, and get into it, there’s nothing better you can do in school! I was surprised at how unprepared some people were. I’m really glad Mr. Kollar had us prepare so thoroughly.
I learned that if you’re going to take a position on something, and you want to convince others to support it, you have to 100 percent behind that position, not conceding to any other points of view, or no one is going to listen to you.
AD: UNAFEM, It was great to meet new people from all around the world. It’s such an eye-opener to learn about their lives and the issues we’ve studied all year.
DB: UNAFEM, It was great to be considered ambassadors for a week. Some of the debates were really tedious, though, and the lunches were bad. Some people just didn’t know how to get their point across, but I want to do it again, definitely. As much as we prepared, though, so many people still seemed so much better prepared than I was.
Keala Mason, Kaiserslautern American High School senior, stands with other delegates to the The Hague International Model United Nations. Keala was one of 19 KAHS students who participated in the annual week-long even Jan. 23 to 29 in The Netherlands. Courtesy photo.